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Untested and AS/IS = tested and found to be broken.

In most cases, I would agree with you. But for the first time ever in my years on EBAY, I landed a brand new item for $0.99 (plus shipping to Japan)! I must say that I was overjoyed because it never fails that some nut will bid up the price, and although I will win it in the end, I usually have to pay a lot more. But this time, I watched the auction all the way to the last 30 seconds and because no one bid, I manually "snipped it" and got the $0.99 opening price. Since there's no ocean shipping to Japan anymore (shame on you USPS!), I had to air mail it over here for $45. But considering the total I've paid for analog boards like this in the past, it was a good deal.

 

This was a Mac Plus Platinum analog board that I had been searching for for years. I was brand new, still in the original Apple Service box with the original anti-static wrap (unbroken seal) and foam cushions and paperwork. The buyer sold it "AS IS/UNTESTED" for two reasons: because he lacked the means to test it (he acquired many Apple Service boxes from another source) and he didn't want to open it (otherwise he couldn't sell it as "unopened.")

 

This seller put up decent photos and his listing was descriptive enough to where I didn't need to ask questions prior to bidding. I also saw he shipped "worldwide," which meant I didn't need to beg the seller to include Japan.

 

All said it was a good deal, even though it was sold "AS IS/ UNTESTED." So you have to be careful with items like that, and often you have to ask questions (if the listing lacks details), but sometimes there is a reason for that description and it makes logical sense. But again, I agree that many EBAY sellers are unethical in their tactics and they sell something "AS IS/UNTESTED" even though they can and maybe have tested it, knowing its bad.

 

cangrande, I've been searching for a working SE/30 logic board for a long time. I've not been able to find one on EBAY over the past couple years for a decent price (because one person in this thread has been buying them all up! :-) I don't need socketed (because I don't want to pay extra for it), and I can re-cap myself. But in light of USPS shipping charges now, I can't pay as much for one as I used to be willing to. However, I would be interested in one.

 

As to your grayscale setup, I'm certain your price would be out of my league. However, if it was reasonable then of course I would be interested. And I could then shoot some photos to add to my Flickr Collection and post some detailed reports about it here (which no other owner of a grayscale setup has ever done for this classic Mac community).

 

I am not a "collector" in name, but rather a Mac enthusiast who is willing to share findings with the community. I do it only because I would like to see others do it. I like to see clear, sharp photos of old Mac stuff, and I like to read interesting reports about them too. Sadly, we don't see a lot of this on Low End Mac, so some of us must post it in forums like this!

 

So anyway, I am more than happy to make some of your items famous on the net, if you decide you wish to part with them.

 

Trust me, we're better off without surface mail. It was very unreliable and slow, even though it was cheap.

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Well, I for one mourn the loss of surface mail. If they could make a low cost version of air mail to be just as cheap, then I would side with you right away, in full agreement! But the fact remains that I would never have been able to afford (nor would I have wanted to) some of the great Mac equipment I've bought off EBAY and had shipped to me via Ocean through the years. To ship a complete system, it would often cost me in excess of US$70 even by ocean. The air freight charges would have been on order of $250. And consider the cost of some of these items on EBAY, freight charges really hit you hard! (Especially when you live in Japan like I do.) I also shipped a lot of big, heavy books over by ocean. Try that via AIR and you go the poor house right away (or go without your books).

 

No, I never liked the lack of package tracking. Nor did I get my jollies off waiting 1.5 to 2 months for a box. But you see, I was willing to wait for a discount. That's the point. I was willing to make a sacrifice so I wouldn't have to pay higher shipping charges. And maybe I was lucky, but I never had a package lost either. I had some that were banged up pretty good, but you learn how to ship things over time. And you learn how to educate EBAY sellers on how to properly pack things for you. With my instructions, I never had a seller complain nor a box come through so damaged the contents were broken or scratch or otherwise unusable.

 

I always made that sacrifice when packages were big. For example, I had entire BBQ sets, baby carriages and other such items shipped to me by surface. I would have never, ever considered shipping those things by AIR! Never! It's just too expensive. Why? Because think about the cost of the item, THEN add shipping to that. It gets expensive. Another thing that impacts you is the exchange rate too. So you see why some people like me want to save money where possible. And it used to be possible on shipping. Not anymore, sadly.

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... I also shipped a lot of big, heavy books over by ocean. Try that via AIR and you go the poor house right away (or go without your books) ...

 

I should not have had the revised Inside Macintosh (9vv) without sea-mail. But sea-mail was a two-edged sword. One package never arrived, always supposing that the lack-lustre seller thought to post it at all. Out of more than 750 eBay purchases I have consciously opted for sea-mail only seven times: range 50-89 days, with an average of 76 days. And then there have been the occasions when USPS sent packages, paid at airmail rates, by sea.

 

de

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I see a very strange black box right behind the area where the video out should be, with a cable connected to it. I have no idea what that is but it is not normal. I am guessing it is some part of the solid state hard drive.

 

It looks like a fan speed controller.

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Grayscale video for the SE/30 though is more true to the definition of "rare" than most other items I've seen on EBAY.

 

Now won't one of you out there just build us a $100 copy of the video board and grayscale card and drivers so we can all enjoy grayscale?! :-)

 

I don't know about $100. A circuit board is going to cost $10 - $20 in quantities of 200. The PDS connector will be about $5 - $7. A Xilinx FPGA to do most of the heavy lifting will run around $15 - $20. Some memory to use as GRAM (Graphics RAM) will be another $5 - $20 (uncertainty there because of sooooo many price/performance trade-offs). DACs will run another $5 - $15 (uncertainty because I haven't researched DACs much). Then miscellaneous connectors for video out (support for external monitor), that back of the CRT connector (is that still available?) and cable harness plugs and receptacles will probably add another $20. Then add in miscellaneous components such as a few PLDs to sort out some of the PDS addressing and caps and resistors and such for another $5 - $10.

 

So you get a minimum *Parts* cost of $65 and a high end of $112 per unit. And that's just for parts. No assembly or reimbursement for skull sweat and development. And there will be costs for development, such as an FPGA development kit for $100 - $200. Some custom circuit boards to interface the FPGA development board to the PDS slot and some more circuit boards for prototypes. Each set of test/prototype circuit boards will cost about $200.

 

So material costs for development will easily reach $1000. And the material costs in the first paragraph are for 100 or 200 units, so one is looking at investing $6500 - $22,400 up front for materials before selling a unit.

 

I'm not sure one could even make it pay with those numbers. The problem is that there may not even be 100 people willing to pay $100 per upgrade.

 

When I built and sold 16 MB SIMMs for the IIFX, I was able to sell 28 sets before the price dropped below $50 per set of four SIMMs. Are there four to eight times as many folks interested in upgrades for the SE/30 as there are for the IIfx?

 

You could cut some of the costs from my estimate a little, because I've assumed a fairly powerful FPGA to allow very fast work and gates available for hardware based Quickdraw acceleration. And I've assumed 4 - 8 MB of GRAM so that a large external monitor can be supported in millions of colors as well as the internal grayscale at 256 shades.

 

But those two components are not that huge a percentage of the cost and they can't be shrunk tremendously (see FPGA I/O pin discussion below). Other parts are necessities and simply cannot be discarded. One must have a PDS connector and connectors to the CRT yoke and for the external monitor and cable harness connectors.

 

The PLDs to help with the addressing are not strictly necessary; that work can easily be done inside the FPGA. Here's the problem. Once you get beyond about 150 I/O pins on an FPGA the only package available is BGA. I can't solder BGAs at home and paying someone else to do so in small quantities is very expensive. So we're limited to about 150 I/O pins (that's a 208 pin total package) for the FPGA.

 

There are around 96 or 97 relevant pins on the PDS slot. Thirty-two of which are addressing pins and another thirty-two of which are data pins. You can cut out several of the addressing pins by letting a PLD handle the high order addressing bits. Your video card is only being addressed for one value of some number of the high order bits, so a PLD can watch those address bits for the value and signal accordingly.

 

Then there are some number of pins needed to output the data to the digital to analog (DAC) converters which signal the CRT(s). This number could range from 24 pins (full parallel output of all color data) to three pins (serial output of each color separately). With a fast FPGA and fast GRAM, this can probably be kept to three pins. Or four pins when you add the output to the grayscale adapter.

 

There may be other digital output pins needed to drive the CRT, but I'm not that well educated yet.

 

Then you need an interface to the GRAM which could use as many as 23 address pins (8 megabytes) plus 24 or 32 data pins.

 

So you've got 90 (PDS) + 4 (DAC) + 23 + 24 I/O pins needed on the FPGA which is about 140 I/O pins. Plus there are probably a few more needed for the display output that I just don't know about yet. Oh and we didn't allow anything for WE, CE, OE or RS on the GRAM, nor for an interface to a firmware container (EEPROM or Flash).

 

I don't know how Micron managed with 100 pins on their Exceed chip. IIRC it has only 100 pins on the main chip. On the other hand there are quite a few PLDs on the board. Also, one could use a combined data bus for both the PDS slot and the GRAM and use muxes with enable signals to avoid signal interference. But that has problems if your memory bus clock speed is much different from your PDS bus clock speed (16 MHz.).

 

Okay, I've wandered off of cost and am just babbling about design trade offs and issues. I'd be happy to read any additions or comments.

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I have talked to the Micron Engineer who has the plans for those boards, waiting to hear when he is shipping them over (unless something happened). Was supposed to get all kind of docs/drivers/cards from him.

 

If I do get the schematics I will post them all. So maybe somebody could make a few hundred and send me one. ;)

 

Was that the fellow on the Classic Computers email list? Have you ever heard back from him. I haven't heard in a while. I should email him.

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